Hurricane Irene, the Arctic and more on green energy headlines - the last week

  • 02 Sep 2011, 15:00
  • Robin Webster

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Hurricane Irene and climate change   

Hurricane Irene prompted considerable discussion in north America this week about the possible links been the hurricane climate change. Joe Romm outlined three reasons why Climate Change Makes Hurricanes Like Irene More Destructive:  

  1. Sea level rise makes storm surges more destructive;
  2. Higher sea surface temperatures leads to more water vapour in the air, more rainfall and therefore increases the risk of flooding;
  3. More water vapour in the air and higher ocean temperatures also mean more intense and bigger storms.

The science blog Climate Central also took a look.

Irene was downgraded to a tropical storm before it hit New York, leading to widely varying claims about its impact. Climate skeptic bloggers labelled it " overhyped" whilst Climate Progress called it " the storm of the century". The New York Times pointed out that it was "likely to prove to be one of the 10 costliest catastrophes in the nation's history".

Arctic sea ice melt and Arctic oil

The Arctic sea ice annual summer minimum is approaching and due around mid-September.

Data (which is updated daily) from the National Snow and Ice Data Center indicates that the summer decline in sea ice extent is currently roughly on a par with the record melt seen in 2007. Carbon Brief has explained the context of the annual melt further in a post here.

As we approach the height of the melt, Exxon Mobil announced it has secured a contract with Russia's state oil company to explore the Arctic Ocean floor for oil.

According to the New York Times, Vladimir Putin, the Russian prime minister, has made "a sweeping global alliance" with Exxon and described the huge figures involved as "scary".

Earlier this week, a team of six British explorers also became the first people to row to the magnetic north pole. The trip only became possible because of Arctic sea ice melt.

More headlines about 'green energy taxes'

Last Saturday The Times printed a front-page headline 'Flawed Green Scheme Costs Households £120 In Energy Bills'.

The story - a result of an investigation by the Times - said that every household in Britain has been overcharged an estimated £120 as a result of the Europe-wide Emissions Trading Scheme.

Although at first glance this figure appears similar to those produced by the Daily Mail in their campaign against 'green taxes' on energy bills, it should be noted that it refers to the total cost to households over six years - not one. The investigation also pointed to flaws in the scheme which has led to it failing to reduce emissions, and to a £9 billion profit made by the energy companies by manipulating the scheme.

Carbon Brief also took a further look at figures quoted in the Daily Mail about the costs of green energy which were sourced to a new book by the Taxpayers Alliance.

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